Hunter set to face Rangers

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

The London Knights expect their captain, Dylan Hunter, to suit up for his 300th OHL game tomorrow night when the rival Kitchener Rangers visit the John Labatt Centre.

Hunter, who tweaked his knee in Sunday's 7-2 win at Mississauga, didn't practise yesterday and had a scheduled doctor's appointment. The official word from the team on London's career leader in games played (299) and assists (242) is that he is "banged up."

"He's going to be good to go," Knights assistant coach Jeff Perry said. "He didn't play at the end of the Mississauga game and that was a precautionary thing. You don't want to bring a guy back if you don't have to and we were fortunate to be in that situation."

Hunter is seventh on the Knights all-time scoring list with 343 points, three back of No. 6 Dino Ciccarelli, who played 73 OHL games less than his pursuer.

The coaching staff gave Hunter and OHL leading scorer Rob Schremp a day off ahead of another big week.

The Knights will clinch a playoff berth with one more point or another Erie Otters tie or loss but could fall out of top spot in the Western conference if they drop both games to Kitchener this weekend.

"The biggest thing for us right now is to go into the playoffs healthy," Knights forward Rob Schremp said. "The last thing we want is for Dylan or David Bolland to be injured because we're not going to last very long if that happens. I've been pretty lucky in that I've felt good all year, haven't been tired, and I'm ready to go for these last 18 games."

If Schremp continues his scoring pace (10 points in his last three games), he has an outside chance at London's single-season points record (155 by Dave Simpson in 1981-82).

As a team, these Knights aren't going to rewrite the record book the way the 2004-05 Memorial Cup champions did. But London can still reach 50 wins -- the milestone of every dominant OHL squad -- for an OHL-record third consecutive campaign if it finishes 14-4 in the final stretch of the schedule.

The Knights also know it might take at least 50 victories to stay ahead of the Rangers and Guelph Storm.

"It's not something we talk about on a daily basis, but it would be special to get 50 wins again," Dylan Hunter said. "We've won a lot of games over the last few years here and it's good for the young guys to see what it takes to achieve that kind of goal."

Hunter recognized winning 50 games with this year's team would have added significance since it's the first time in three seasons the Knights weren't picked to finish first in their conference or in the OHL.

"It would almost make it more satisfying because we weren't expected to do it this year," he said. "No one knew what was going to happen with us this year and we've shown we're still a good team and we're capable of going far again in the playoffs. People thought we were going to lose too many good players, but that wasn't the case."

Tom Webster, who coached the Windsor Spitfires, including Kitchener bench boss Peter DeBoer to an OHL championship in 1988, was on the ice with the Knights for yesterday's practice. Webster is a scout with the Calgary Flames, who drafted Knights defenceman Matt Pelech (then with the Sarnia Sting) in last summer's NHL draft.

KNIGHTWATCH

Tomorrow: Knights vs. Kitchener, 7 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre

Friday: Knights vs. Plymouth, 7:30 p.m. at the JLC

Sunday: at Kitchener, 7 p.m. at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium


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